Don’t Overlook Hidden Application Dependencies When Moving Your Data Center

Don’t Overlook the Hidden Application Dependencies

by Eric Kraieski

Business is on the move. As companies across all industries accelerate to stay ahead of their markets, they’re adding innovative digital solutions to meet customer needs and make their business more efficient and competitive. In turn, IT teams must keep pace to ensure their environment can easily adapt to the myriad of new technologies, applications and services. However, making ongoing updates and adapting to more complex cloud environments is never what it seems on the surface, because you’re never just dealing with applications—you’re dealing with every bit of infrastructure (including other applications), that has some connection to it.

Making sweeping changes in the name of digital transformation or responding to unanticipated changes without understanding how it all comes together can produce a highly undesirable domino effect.

But with IT information now stored across various systems and maintained by different teams, making the overall landscape siloed and inconsistent, such an understanding doesn’t always come easily. Mapping your application dependencies can reveal what’s lurking below and ensure there are no business disruptions when changes are made – whether they’re planned or not.

Beyond mere asset inventory: understanding application dependencies

To effectively manage your systems, you need to know exactly what assets are in your IT environment and have current, accurate configuration data. IT staff must understand application-to-application and application-to-services dependencies as well as application-to-infrastructure. Oftentimes just identifying the primary application is not enough, and a clear depiction of upstream and downstream relationships is required to fully prepare for changes and communicate impact to stakeholders.

For example, let’s say you’ve recovered your primary application in the public cloud, but you were unaware that a SaaS provider you used for a web service is part of your payment flow and needed to be notified of an IP Address change.

While such a dependency might be easily overlooked, it could lead to the inability to deliver a critical business service. A clear picture of the overall impact of an operational issue, such as failed server, and how its effects might reverberate beyond the primary application, will save you critical time and reduce the otherwise negative impact your organization would experience. Some enterprises may find this information in a Configuration Management Database (CMDB).

Others may use an automated, application discovery tool to understand the organization’s IT environment, particularly in the areas of service impact analysis, asset management, compliance, and configuration management. Auto-discovery, ITSM and asset management solutions are designed to collect and consolidate all of this information. Many IT managers are enamored with the idea of an automated discovery tool. After all, with a name like auto-discovery, shouldn’t it be easy to produce a comprehensive picture?

The Limits of Auto-discovery

On the surface, it makes sense that an automated sweep of your IT landscape should generate what you need. But actually, more often than not, these tools produce an excess amount of unnecessary data that ultimately fails to illustrate the interdependencies of applications for business-critical operations. We find that these tools may not provide complete, contextual information, such as the business logic behind the use of a particular application, which leaves you vulnerable when making decisions about what to migrate, and when to move it.

Some other IT managers have an aversion to auto-discovery tools. If you have a unique IT setup—for example, a bespoke server with a highly-unusual configuration, running esoteric applications — how can you be confident an auto-discovery tool will get the information it needs? Can you be sure to capture the legacy applications and all their dependencies buried in your IT landscape?

Mapping a complete strategy

Here are a few steps that should be taken in preparing to execute or respond to change, while maintaining full IT resilience:

  • Ingest information describing all elements of your environment from a variety of sources and then normalize the data to filter out noise and build a single, consistent source of truth. While most would take it as a given that you must thoroughly map your environment, capturing everything can be much more challenging than many anticipate. IT environments are becoming increasingly complex, and the chances that critical information about applications is going to be siloed in various departments is only growing. This brings us to the next point, which involves bringing the tribal knowledge of your people into the mix.
  • Validate the data and application dependencies with subject matter experts to mitigate the risk of missing key relationships and dependencies, enabling teams to make better decisions. In fact, it’s critical in the discovery phase to engage the organization’s SMEs in short, but meaningful interviews to obtain physical/virtual inventory, application inventory and dependencies.
  • Once you’ve performed a thorough dependency analysis, you are then ready to create “move bundles” and events. Because you now have a complete view of how the various applications and other IT components are dependent on each other, you can decide which groups of applications can be moved. This can save tremendous time and resources in a datacenter migration, a move to the cloud or some other system improvement. Or, it might enable you to respond more effectively and minimize the effects of an unforeseen disruption, because you fully understand how it might reverberate in your IT environment.

As you make decisions about your IT infrastructure, consider that you’re not just migrating an application–you are migrating all of the infrastructure that is connected to it. And in today’s dynamic environments, interdependencies between apps can be complex and extensive. Failure to account for those complexities and interdependencies across the IT landscape often leads to delays, breakdowns, and disruption to critical business services impacting company revenue and creating internal frustration. Not sure which of your applications are ready to move? With our Application Readiness for the Cloud Jump Start Offering, Cloud Architects deploy automated discovery and capacity analysis tools to analyze, right-size and determine TCO for workloads in the Cloud.

Know which applications to move, what to retire, and how to get them to the cloud.

Accelerate your stalled cloud transformation with our Application Readiness for Cloud Offering

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